Found in Translation: The Hyundai Seoul

Burdifilek unveiled its  multi-level design of The Hyundai Seoul, the largest department store in South Korea’s capital city. The retail landmark is part of a multi-use complex combining business, shopping, and leisure in a single destination.

Photo credit: Yongjoon Choi Photography

Burdifilek was commissioned to design three floors of the department store, including the Zen-like ambiance of the atrium, with elements that are visible from all levels of the department store.

Leveraging the building’s unique architecture with multiple voids throughout, Burdifilek conceptualized a green belt that would wrap around the spaces and provide continuity to an overall theme of tranquility and well-being.

A gravity defying 12-meter-tall sculptural waterfall stands prominently in the main atrium, surrounded by organically shaped floating islands. The Waterfall Garden cascades through dancing water features with seating extending from its fluid forms.

Photo credit: Yongjoon Choi Photography

The concept of nature is carried forward with reflective borders that mimic tranquil water patterns along the inner edges of the ceiling planes, creating the visual effect of glancing up at a reflecting pond. 

“We were given a substantial piece of architecture with many atriums. Hyundai’s vision was to allocate 50 percent of this floor plate to create public spaces where people can socialize in a much more experiential environment than the typical mall experience has to offer,” says Diego Burdi, Co-founder and Creative Director of Burdifilek. “At the end our solution was inspired by Seoul’s surrounding nature. We chose to bring the outside in and create something unexpected that plays with scale and as the green concept began to extend to the whole environment the building became softer and more conducive to those memorable experiences.”

From floors, to walls, ceilings, furnishings, fixtures, and materiality, each floor presents its own dialect of experiences and visual display elements, all tailored to the style of merchandise and the lifestyle trends of those most apt to shop there.  

On the second floor, Burdifilek’s interpretation of the future home for women’s high-end fashion is at the heart of elegance and timeless luxury. The floor offers a gallery-like space for one to meander and explore. Use of gentle, indirect lighting accentuates fluid forms on the ceiling to radiate an ethereal quality.

Photo credit: Yongjoon Choi Photography

Photo credit: Yongjoon Choi Photography

In Contrast, the third floor takes on the abstract form of a blooming. While maintaining a degree of commonality with the second floor in terms of sculptural elements, this floor expresses them in bolder form, amidst a creative backdrop of shocking deep blue hanging systems, aggressive materiality with an emphasis on the contrast of natural and man-made materials, unfinished ceiling, custom built, vacuum-formed sculptural walls and a simple color palette that speaks more directly to the featured brands.

Photo credit: Yongjoon Choi Photography

“Our philosophy was to create environments on each floor that would speak to a specific demographic, with a different design language while evoking nature in the spaces in various ways,” says Diego Burdi.  “We also strived to create some commonality through sculptural elements that will resonate with the guests and give a physical experience of wondering and exploring.” 

In approaching this ambitious project, Burdifilek’s vision was to create a strong point of view that would be memorable for the end user. In veering away from global retail trends, the firm designed the floors of The Hyundai Seoul to be easily approachable, while providing visionary design elements and color palettes that are both inspirational and aspirational.  

“This project is a celebration of many ingredients from retail and technology innovation to exceptional design and architecture each contributing to a memorable experience.” says Paul Filek, Co-Founder and Managing Partner.  

“Working with Hyundai was also ideal, as it is a very design-aware company with a future-oriented vision when it comes to innovation in the retail space.” says Diego Burdi.

Technical Sheet

Project Name: The Hyundai Seoul

Client: The Hyundai Department Store Group

Location: 108 Yeoui-daero, Yeoui-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea – Part of Hyundai Parc 1 mixed-use complex

Spaces designed by Burdifilek for The Hyundai Seoul: 

Ground Floor Atrium (Waterfall Garden) and Floors 2,3,4 (Selected Areas)


Floor 2: 2,673 m2

Floor 3: 2,733 m2

Floor 4: 2,734 m2

Total area: 9,552 m2 (out of 89,100 m2 total area of The Huyndai Seoul)


Design Team:

Paul Filek, Co-founder and Managing Partner

Diego Burdi, Co-founder and Creative Director

Tom Yip, Project Manager

John Seo, Sr. Concept Designer + Korean Translator

Michael Del Priore, Sr. Concept Designer

Shawn Li, Designer

Daniel Mei, Technical Designer (CAD)

Anna Nomerovsky, CAD

Anna Jurkiewicz, CAD

Yoonah Lee, CAD

Lighting Consultant: Marcel Dion

Project Sector: Full-Line Department Store

Project Completed: February 2021

Photographer: Yongjoon Choi Photography